Monthly Archives: March 2020

Looking for some safe and healthy fun outdoors? Here’s some advice from Joe Milone assistant professor of recreation management, Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management Department, on spending time outside during a time when many of us are studying or working from home and practicing self-distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Joe Milone

Q: Is it okay to go to a park and take a hike?

A: Hiking is excellent for one’s physical and mental health, which is important in times like this. I just got back from a hike in West Rock Ridge State Park in Hamden with my dog. There were actually quite a few people with their canine companions out on the trail today.

If someone decides to go out for hike, it is absolutely important to minimize exposure to others. As with all the other warnings from local, state, and federal officials, practicing good hygiene and social distancing are key. Parks and trails provide plenty of open space and allow us to keep our distance from others. Do not congregate with a large group of people – that defeats the purpose of social distancing.

Of course, if you are showing symptoms or think you have been exposed to the virus then you should stay home and follow CDC and local public health agency guidelines. In addition, there is a lot we don’t know about the virus or impact on our specific community, so continue monitoring announcements because information is always changing.

Q: How can people prepare for their outing?

A: Research nearby parks. Some parks can be extremely busy, so finding a lesser-visited park could be a good option, but either way do some research before you go. Go during off-hours, if possible, to avoid large groups of people – this also lessens the environmental impact of the trails.

I would choose a trail that will not be crowded. This can be difficult to determine ahead of time, so you might have to change plans when arriving at the park. If a trail looks crowded, find another option. That’s why it is good to bring a map. Close to the SCSU campus, the loop around Lake Wintergreen in West Rock Ridge State Park or the Sleeping Giant State Park tower trail are both very popular hiking spots. However, there are plenty of other trail options at each park to get away from the large crowds.

As always have extra food, water, and, of course, hand sanitizer. Check the weather. Know your skill level and that of the people you are with to determine how long to be out and trail difficulty.

Q: Do you recommend any resources to help people plan their outing?

A: The internet is full of great resources but here are a few to get you going.

Hiking For Beginners

Connecticut Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Trail Club

Connecticut State Parks

Connecticut Forest and Parks Association

REI – Best Hikes in CT

Jonathan Wharton

The arrival of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state of Connecticut has necessitated the swift move to online courses at the state’s public colleges and universities, aimed at reducing the risk of the virus spreading among large groups of people in close quarters.

Jonathan Wharton, associate professor of political science and urban affairs at Southern, has published an op-ed on CT News Junkie, “Coronavirus Is Forcing Higher Education to Reinvent Itself” (March 13, 2020), in which he discusses the move towards online modes of delivery for courses at Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education, made necessary by the spread of COVID-19. Wharton says that “Connecticut is overdue for providing alternative and nontraditional delivery methods of higher education to address our student enrollment and generational staffing concerns.” Read the op-ed.

 

Left to right: Christopher O'Connor, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Yale New Haven Health System; Mark Ojakian, president, Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education; Joe Bertolino, president of Southern Connecticut State University; Sandra Bulmer, dean of the College of Health and Human Services; Kevin McNamara, director, SCSU Center for Communication Disorders Clinic; Melquicedex Hernandez, sophomore, Department of Nursing; Kevin McGinniss, '79, M.S. '85, 6th Yr. '92, assistant professor and graduate coordinator, Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management; Marian Evans M.D., M.P.H. '15, assistant professor, Department of Public Health

Southern can train the next generation of nursing students using a healthcare simulation center that will closely mimic a hospital floor and enable students to visually review how they handled themselves in treating “patients.”

That will be among the highlights of a new College of Health and Human Services building scheduled to be completed by fall 2021.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday, March 6 in the construction area, which is adjacent to Pelz Gymnasium.

“This state-of-the-art facility will provide greatly enhanced, research and experiential learning opportunities for our students and faculty in the health-related fields,” said SCSU President Joe Bertolino.

“We are gaining the physical resources to prepare our students for success in a knowledge-based workforce, he said. “And by producing more graduates with much-needed expertise in health and human services, Southern will continue to be a key player in Connecticut’s economic revival.”

The four-story, 94,750 square-foot brick building will house most departments within the College of Health and Human Services. These include the departments of Nursing; Communication Disorders; Health and Movement Sciences (formerly Exercise Science); Public Health; and Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management.

The building will provide students and faculty with additional classrooms, state-of-the-art teaching and training spaces, lecture halls, increased office space, collaborative spaces, a demonstration kitchen and modern human performance labs. It also will feature an abundance of natural light.

When completed, the total cost is expected to be between $53 million and $56 million — paid for through state bond funds, according to Robert Sheeley, SCSU associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations.

Mark Ojakian, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, said the current healthcare challenges posed by the Coronavirus underscore the importance of having top notch facilities to train our students. He said today’s students will be on the frontlines of addressing health care challenges that arise in the future.

Sandra Bulmer, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said she is excited about the opportunities that await students and faculty. “Our programs train the workforce of the state,” she said.

Other speakers included:

Christopher O’Connor, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Yale-New Haven Health System Marian Evans, SCSU assistant professor of public health; Peter Simmons, project manager for the state Department of Construction Services; Kevin McGinniss, graduate program coordinator for the SCSU Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management; Kevin McNamara, director of the SCSU Center for Communication Disorders Clinic; and Melquicedex Hernandez, a sophomore nursing student at Southern.

Among the highlights of the building will be:

  • a home simulation apartment to train students from multiple professions in home care.
  • expanded facilities for the Communication Disorders Clinic that will be able to serve more clients and train more graduate speech-language clinicians.
  • a human performance facility that will house Southern’s Running Injury Clinic and include labs for testing health and fitness, metabolism, neurophysiology and biomechanics. This includes a high-tech Bod Pod to measure body fat composition through air displacement, rather than having to be underwater. It also includes a biomechanics lab with motion capture technology, a high-tech treadmill and use of force plates for movement analysis.
  • an athletic training teaching lab.
  • a center for individuals with different abilities to have recreational opportunities that are supervised by recreational therapy students.
  • two 60-seat lecture halls that can be joined together to form a large auditorium.
  • a demonstration kitchen classroom that seats 40 students and will be used by the Public Health Department for teaching nutrition, food safety and healthy food preparation.
  • a business presentation and collaboration classroom that seats 25 students.

 

Dr. Trudy Milburn

Following a national search, Dr. Trudy Milburn has been offered and has accepted the position of associate vice president for academic affairs.

Milburn will come to Southern from Purchase College, State University of New York, where she serves as assistant dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Science and as director of academic programs.

Previously, Milburn was the founder of the Communication Program at California State University, Channel Island, where she also worked as co-director of the Center for Community Engagement. At Baruch College, CUNY, she was deputy director of the Graduate Studies Program in Corporate Communication. She also served six years as the director of Campus Solutions at Taskstream, where she provided consultations in online assessment software in order to meet the requirements of regional and specialized accreditation agencies.

Milburn holds a B.A. in rhetoric and communication from the University of California, Davis, an M.A. in speech communication from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

She will officially begin her work at the University on May 26, with about one week of transition overlap with current AVPAA Ilene Crawford. Crawford will be heading to Cornell College in early June 2020, where she will serve as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College.

Left to right: Melissa L. Sanchez, Anna Rivera-Alfaro, Ling Liu, Carol Held, Kacie Velasquez, John Perry, Kiersten Snyder, Justin Paolillo, Paulina Lamot, Sameed Iqbal, Dr. Frank Bevvino

Southern Connecticut State University is hosting its annual Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program every Wednesday from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the School of Business Trading Room (SB 005), through April 8, 2020. There will be no program on March 18, due to spring break. The program began on February 26.

The VITA program offers free tax support to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. For qualified individuals, IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing.

Here at Southern, many of those certified tax preparers are accounting students, making the program mutually beneficial to both qualified individuals in need of tax assistance and the students who are preparing the tax returns.

Dr. Frank Bevvino, the accounting professor on campus who oversees the Southern VITA program, says “The program is beneficial to the students in two ways; it benefits students in the School of Business, especially the Accounting Program, providing the student with not only ‘hands on’ experience in preparing actual tax returns for individuals, but more importantly the experience of interaction with taxpayers directly.”

He added, “In the classroom, when taking a tax course, the tax returns are prepared with facts provided to students and there is not interaction with a person. Additionally, the VITA Program allows the student the opportunity to prepare tax returns on tax software provided by the Internal Revenue Service.”

All of the volunteers who wish to participate in the program are required to take and pass three different exams through the IRS, and the 10 SCSU students who are involved in the program this year are enrolled in a competitive three-credit Income Tax Administration Practicum (ACC 352).

“The exams are given online at the IRS website and includes areas of ethics in handling personal tax information, procedures in conducting an interview with taxpayers, and an understanding of basic individual income tax law,” said Bevvino.

He points out that these are important life skills for everyone to have.

Paulina Lamot, ’20, is going into her third year as a VITA volunteer, saying “I think it is a phenomenal opportunity for students to get an idea of what it is like to prepare real tax returns and work with actual taxpayers, and to apply what we learned in ACC 350 (Federal Income Taxation) in real-life scenarios. I would highly recommend participating in the VITA program to any student interested in Tax. Dr. Frank Bevvino and [SCSU Accounts Payable Coordinator] Anna Rivera-Alfaro are very supportive and work beside you in case you run into any hiccups.”

Since the program is open to anyone who generally earns less than $56,000 per year, students have the benefit of getting their taxes done for free. In 2019 the SCSU VITA volunteers processed 50 tax returns.

For more information about the program or to make an appointment, contact Debby Amendola at amendolad1@southernct.edu or Dr. Frank Bevvino at bevvinof1@southernct.edu.

Appointments are encouraged, but not required.